Ownership of an OHSMS

| December 10, 2010

I received the following question about the OHSAS 18001 requirements from a reader

Would you kindly let me know which department should take ownership/responsibility in a manufacturing unit for OHSAS activities implementation, like Lock out –Tag out and etc.

  • Health and Safety Dept.
  • Maintenance Dept.
  • Admin Dept.
  • Others?

This is the answer I provided –

OHSAS 18001 does not dictate who must be responsible or accountable for OHSMS activities – the organization needs to make this “ownership” determination for itself.

Usually, the professionals in the health and safety department have an advisory or oversight role for OH&S with the “hands-on” individuals – in operations or maintenance – owning safety at the operational or implementation level.   This means no one department or individual “owns” safety but each “owns” the processes and/or tasks assigned to it.   

An organization’s applicable legal and other requirements may also influence this determination. In the United States, OSHA regulations have established requirements regarding “ownership” of some safety-related activities.  Also, many large corporations have established corporate requirements for high-risk activities, such as equipment lock-out, that set out mandatory responsibilities and/or accountabilities.

Take lock-out / tag-out as an example. 

Since, there is a level of expertise needed to evaluate equipment to determine the safe way to conduct lockout, this task is typically assigned to the H&S professional (a competent individual).   The communication of this information is often a joint responsibility.  Conducting each lock-out in a safe manner, in accordance with established work instructions, is an operational or maintenance responsibility.

Safety is not simply one individual’s or one department’s responsibility.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2010)

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Category: OHSMS Implementation

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